Lack of Covid Rules Fuel the Return of Big Weddings

When Nessa Egwuatu and Jordan Onuoha held a 350-person wedding in Houston on March 6, it was a sign of how large weddings are returning to Texas — and beyond — amid the loosening of Covid-19 restrictions.

The couple had planned to celebrate with 1,000 guests and said it was important to them to have a big wedding. “A big thing we said to multiple people is to not feel pressured on attending our wedding as we understood the current state of the world,” Ms. Egwuatu said afterward. Guests were still required to wear masks and sign a waiver indicating they were Covid-free.

Large gatherings are advised against by the Centers for Disease Control. “If you’re set on hundreds of people, you have to be prepared,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security. “Any kind of mass gathering, if you’ve got a lot of unvaccinated individuals, is likely to result in cases and exposures.”

“People are getting mixed messaging,” said Dr. Maria E. Rivera, a local health authority for Harris County Public Health in Houston. “We’ve been discouraging people from having large weddings, but it’s been a challenge since the governor has lifted restrictions.”

In early March, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas ended any mask or gathering requirements, with some caveats.

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If a couple proceeds with a supersized wedding, mitigation measures should be taken. “You should think about rapid testing everyone, though that may be cost prohibitive for most people and logistically difficult,” Dr. Adalja said.

All events should be moved outdoors, he said. Pre- and post-wedding quarantines, proof of negative PCR tests, strict mask mandates and social distancing should also be considered.

For Wendy Kay, the owner of Birds of a Feather Events, a Dallas wedding planning company, Gov. Abbott’s decision to allow large weddings has been a disappointment. Her company won’t produce any large weddings until this fall, when Ms. Kay anticipates that all guests will have had an opportunity to be vaccinated.

“We’re almost there, we’re so close to the finish line with this pandemic,” Ms. Kay said. “But we’re not there yet, and still I’m seeing Instagram stories every weekend of these huge weddings — absolute ragers, with no one wearing a mask. They’re super-spreader events. I don’t see how people don’t see that.”

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